Amid investor push for sale, PeoplesBank parent names new leader
After more than three decades leading Codorus Valley Bancorp, Larry J. Miller is stepping down as president and CEO.
- Miller is handing the reins as of Oct. 1 to Craig L. Kauffman, a longtime regional banking executive who joined Codorus Valley in 2018 as president and CEO of its chief subsidiary, PeoplesBank.
- Miller will retain his role as executive chair of both Codorus Valley and PeoplesBank until Dec. 31, at which point he will retire from the bank where he started in 1971 as a management trainee, according to a regulatory filing.
- He became president and CEO of PeoplesBank in 1981 and then leader of Codorus Valley when the holding company was first formed in 1986.
- “Over the last 50 years, Larry has helped build our company into what it is today. He oversaw substantial growth in assets and geographic expansion and has left us well-positioned to capitalize on an abundance of opportunities in an economically strong market,” Cynthia Dotzel, board vice chair and lead director, said in a statement. “We are sincerely grateful for his dedicated, remarkable career in service to the bank’s clients, employees, and the community of York County.”
Why is this happening: In an email, Miller described the move as part of a three-year-old succession plan that began when Kauffman joined the bank, which is based in York Township, York County
- "Craig is a proven business leader," Miller wrote, adding: "He is uniquely qualified to lead the company into the future."
- Before coming to Codorus Valley, Kauffman was a regional executive for BB&T and its forerunner, Susquehanna Bank.
- However, the leadership change comes amid pressure from an activist shareholder who believes the bank should be sold.
What shareholder: Abbott Cooper, managing member of New York-based hedge fund Driver Management. He owns 640,880 shares in Codorus Valley, giving him an ownership stake of nearly 6.5%, according to a recent regulatory filing.
What's next: In letters filed this month with securities regulators, Cooper has criticized the board for failing to act independently from Miller in areas such as executive compensation. Miller declined to comment on Cooper's letters.
- Since July, Cooper has been urging board members to explore a sale of Codorus Valley, arguing that shareholders would see a better return that way.
- "I think that there are a lot of interested buyers out there that could pay a significant premium to its current stock price," Cooper said yesterday in a phone interview.
- Potential buyers include Fulton Bank, Northwest Bank and S&T Bank, he added.
- Codorus Valley, which has assets of more than $2.2 billion, operates branches across Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. It is one of two banks based in York County. The other is Traditions Bank.
- If the board does not eventually start exploring a sale, Cooper said he would consider a proxy fight, in which he would seek to elect his own board members.
- One potential candidate is A. Dwight Utz, a former president and CEO of PeoplesBank who was let go in 2018, Cooper said.
WHO'S BUYING: Dawood Engineering. Based in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, the firm has purchased a company in Poland that specializes in building information modeling, a way of showing digital building designs in 3D. The company, ArchiTube, is the first overseas acquisition for Dawood, which now has about 150 employees, according to spokesperson Ricardo Duarte. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Based in Czestochowa in southern Poland, ArchiTube employs 10 people and has partnered in the past with Dawood, Duarte said.
- ArchiTube is headed by an executive naemed Adam Grewanda and also offers laser scanning, land surveying and facilities management.
- “Adam’s leadership and ArchiTube’s diverse client portfolio adds tremendous value to our family of companies -- increasing our geographic reach 10-fold throughout North America and Eurasia,” Bony Dawood, president of Dawood Engineering, said in a statement.
The background: Three-dimensional modeling is increasingly important for engineers and their clients who may be working from home and are less able to visit work sites due to Covid-19 protocols.
WHO'S GOT BIG IDEAS: Startups selected as finalists in the Big Idea contest sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern Pennsylvania. The state-backed venture fund solicited applications from startups over the summer and has identified eight finalists eligible for the top prize of $50,000. They are:
What's next: The finalists are scheduled to compete in a virtual pitch event scheduled for Oct. 14, according to Ben Franklin.
- Spectators can drop in via Zoom and vote for the winner of a $2,500 People's Choice Award sponsored by Cargas, a Lancaster-based software company.
WHO'S EXPANDING: Invisible Fence of Harrisburg, a corporate-owned franchise for the Invisible Fence brand of dog fences. The Middletown-based franchise has purchased its neighbor, Invisible Fence of Southern PA, which is based in York County. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Invisible Fence of Harrisburg covers the Camp Hill, Lancaster and Harrisburg areas.
- The York County franchise covers Adams, Franklin and York counties. It had been independently owned by Craig Heller, according to Tricia Everett, an Invisible Fence spokesperson.
- Corporate-owned franchises make up 15% of all invisible Fence franchises, Everett added.
- Invisible Fence's parent company is Tennessee-based Radio Systems Corp.
Got questions? Got feedback? Interested in supporting BizNewsPA?
Contact us at BizNewsPA@gmail.com
Compiled and written by Joel Berg